A heart identified with the interests and glory of God has known and believed the love of God, and has confidence in the thoughts of God towards us. Our hearts ought to be able to go to God without the slightest thought of anything but the outflowing of God's heart toward us in Christ. He looks for it - with such a walk that the conscience will not have to get clean when it comes to Him. * * *
The Father's Love.
John 14:23, etc.
All here is put conditionally as to the ways of God towards us. Their place and position is not only settled, but known. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." We get the known life being in Him. (v. 20.) Now then, "If a man love me he will keep my words and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." There's the condition. It is not here loving Him because He first loved us, but it is another thing; it is dealing with a child. It is not a question of being a child, that question is never raised, but a question of an obedient child, and of love in dealing with a child; and I find the thing that comes first is our loving Him and the Father's government; that depends on the conduct of the child, and is because he is a child. You are under this government of God. "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me." He does keep in the name of Father all His children; but holy Father, that is how He keeps. We know that we are in Christ, and Christ in us; and if Christ is in me, nothing ought to be seen in me but Him, and peace in our souls: the peace Christ had Himself, that He made for us. He never had a cloud upon His conscience; He stood ever in the perfect sense of divine favour. We are in His place in this world, loved as He is loved. As soon as He has set us on this ground - the only true Christian ground - in no other aspect can God look at us but as accepted in the Beloved." Christ being in us, we are called to walk with God; and if I am keeping His commandments, I get a little further into His mind. The proof of our love to Him is obedience.
Now how far are we walking in the present enjoyment of the manifestation of Christ to our souls? How far are we conscious of the affections belonging to this relationship to the Father? walking in it, the Holy Ghost not grieved? and the effect is (not to make me think of myself, as of failure, but) to occupy me with the blessed manifestation of God to my soul, the positive enjoyment of the certainty of my place with Him never to be lost, conscious acceptance. Then He does begin to deal with us as walking with Him. Again, in John 15, it is our aiding first; but He will make His abode with us. This is the practice after "ye are clean." You are clean; now then "abide in me." It is not a question of acceptance, but to bring forth much fruit. It is the Father's government in respect of our walk. God as a loving Father, as a holy Father, taking cognizance of our walk, ways, words, etc. The whole question becomes one of walk and communion, of Christ manifesting Himself to my soul, and of that which hinders and interrupts this. He says, "I am going away, but I am coming to be with you that you may enjoy my presence." Are we so walking that we can enjoy Christ's presence? If He comes, is the effect to bring to light some of my badness? or would it be the full blessedness of joy in Him? If in the power of Christ's word my habit is walking with Christ in everything, and if Christ comes in, there is only joy in my heart (of course, if my heart has got enfeebled as to present grace in Him, it has to deal with my state), death has lost all its power; the only thing left is, "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." The manifestation of Christ to the soul gives the manifestation of the love and interest He has in His own.
Things that used to delight us become dung and dross; more than that, they have lost their power, and are things that become oppression to the spirit, that are not Christ. Souls get accustomed to live without Christ, without full communion with Him, in the blessedness of full salvation. He is the blessedness of it, as He will be our everlasting joy; this is fellowship. I desire that your hearts may have activity of the Spirit to get into the atmosphere of what will be in heaven - to live in its fellowship with Him - common feelings, common thoughts, common joys; and if we do, the Father and the Son come and make their abode with us, to live in the thoughts, the joys of holiness and love, and we with a nature capable of delighting in it. But even when we do enjoy the real manifestation of Christ, we find there is very little power of doing so continuously. Stephen looked up stedfastly into heaven, and he was full of the Holy Ghost; that is the effect of it. But with us it does not last long; we do not look up stedfastly. It dies out, is lost; not lost so as not to come again, but it is not with us the constant living in that place where all else is judged out.
"If a man love me, he will keep my words." It is always that, and the Father and the Son, with the revelation of all that they are to the soul, the things on which our affections are to be set, which prop everything else. The effect is, I am joying in Him. It gives amazing strength to heart and spirit in our walk; the heart is discovered if living in these joys, the eye is single, and the whole body full of light. We find in Hebrews the means of being sustained in that position. Walking in the world, the tendency of everything is to distract; we have to live in the things not seen. Paul says, "Henceforth know we no man after the flesh;" all he had to do with the world as a man identified with Christ in glory, was to bring that Christ into the world. All I know about myself is that I am dead.
It is a great thing to know that we are walking in a world of which Satan is the god and prince; and that "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." The world is not of God, He made all things, but He did not make the world as it is; sinful man, deceit and vanity, made the world; it is all in the bondage of corruption. Christ came into the world, took up our place as man, was tempted in all points, and now appears in the presence of God for us. Of course He had no lust; but I don't want intercession for my lusts, I want the hatchet of God's word, which is sharper than a two-edged sword. The word of God comes in to detect every thought and intent of my heart. I find the devil putting up in every shop something to draw me aside, and I do want mercy and grace to help in time of need. He presented all things to Christ to turn Him aside in the way, and it is when we are in the way that he seeks to stop us. It is the testing and trying of the inward life, to see if we will walk after Christ, having no object but Him, following hard after Him. There is mercy; we are weak; He helps our infirmities. He knows all the trials in the path of faith. Others may not stick fast; I may be left alone. He understands all perfectly; He has been thoroughly put to the test; though out of it now, He is thoroughly cognizant of all that we pass through. It is not failure in Hebrews; the heart can always go boldly. It is access to God into communion, title to look up to God because Christ has appeared in the presence of God for us. There can be one imputation. We get into the thought of forgetting that He is in the presence of God for us.
When I get to the epistle of John it is fellowship. The moment I have an idle thought, an uncharitable thought, the fellowship is gone. Nothing that does not come from the Spirit of God can be fellowship. It may be restored, but the thing is stopped, and if you go on long a terrible hardness comes over the conscience. God is light; light and darkness can have no communion. Here I get Christ in the character of advocate to restore. I have not been obedient, not kept His commandments, not been diligent in looking for mercy and grace, the word of God is not abiding in me; then the Advocate comes in, in virtue of righteousness and in virtue of propitiation, bows me and humbles me before God, and communion is restored. There is nothing so dangerous as getting the soul to do without that, getting into the state of being away from God without finding it out. He that is accustomed to walk in the light of God's countenance will find it out. It is not a question of sin, but you are so walking with God that you are conscious immediately if you are not in the light, if you feel anything creeping over your heart which would enable you to go a whole day without finding God revealed to your heart. Are you content to live without any manifestation of Christ to your soul? He loved us, and He desires that this should be a spring of joy in our souls.
He has gone back to heaven, but He is not going to leave you comfortless. "I will come to you." Is there an echo in your hearts to this coming Christ? Is this fellowship with Him your heart's joy? He will come and will manifest Himself to us as not to the world. Let us remember that we are bought with a price. God has taken us up for eternal salvation, and the way He takes us up is to draw our hearts after Christ. He does create a want in the heart for this manifestation of Christ. Does your heart say, "That's what I want?" Or is it possible you avoid it because it is a claim upon you?
The Lord give us to keep so close to Him that the affections of Christ's heart, so wonderfully declared to us, may find an echo in our hearts. t t t